EDWARDSVILLE – Although e-filing for courthouses across Illinois has been mandatory since Jan. 1, local circuit clerks' offices have been using digital records for years.
“We have been e-filing since 2009 primarily in our mass tort litigation,” Mark Von Nida of Madison County told the Record. “We have had, quite literally, millions of pages e-filed through our courts.”
St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay said its court system too had been digital for a long time.
“St. Clair County has been e-filing on a permissive basis since 2010 and we had a large community of lawyers that e-filed on a permissive basis,” she explained. “Mandatory e-filing has not been much different. We did field a lot of questions and there was a learning curve for all who had not e-filed before, but collectively we navigated through it.”
Von Nida said the state has been developing an e-file manager called E-file Illinois that is expected to work with various e-filing service providers.
“Since we were e-filing all along, we were a pilot county for the electronic filing policies,” he said. “We were exempt from the mandate of Jan. 1 but the revised mandate for last year said that July 1 we would become part of the EFM.”
Madison County still keeps paper records in certain circumstances, Von Nida said.
“Some paperwork, such as wills, will always be around, but the policy that the Supreme Court adopted last year was everything that comes in electronically is considered the official document. They are stored electronically but converted to microfiche to be stored permanently.”
The general public also has access to some court case information online, he said.
“The basic information is available online through Clericus Magnus. When we migrate completely over to E-file Illinois, Research Illinois will become available. Everything that is subsequently filed through the EFM will become available online too.”
Those interested in St. Clair County cases can also get information online, Clay said, but is limited.
“The public has been able to access basic civil and criminal case information online for years. However, documents cannot be viewed online.”